A Riot of Roses at Gardens of Gothenburg 2008

Garden fanatics will be converging on the Swedish city of Gothenburg for the ‘Gardens of Gothenburg’ exhibition which kicks off on 28 June 2008 and runs for three months. The exhibition will take place in four key locations in and around the city centre.

The four locations are; The Trädgårdsföreningen (the Garden Society of Gothenburg), Gothenburg Botanical Garden, Liseberg Park and Gunnebo House and Gardens. Rose lovers will gravitate towards the Trädgårdsföreningen where several European garden and design luminaries (Jane Schul, Piet Odulf, Gert Wingårdh and Nina Thalinson) will present their own particular take on the ‘rose garden’. These gardens will be permanent installations for the people of (and visitors to) the city of Gothenburg to enjoy for many years to come.

Internationally acclaimed landscape architect Ulf Nordfjell has been instrumental in the remodeling of the Trädgårdsföreningen, his inspiration was to show how to combine roses with architecture and design in an ecological way. He has separated the modern roses in the rosarium (built in1980) from the historic roses in the rose park and introduced modern varieties from Canada, the UK (David Austin) and Germany (Korbes). Additions to the 1980’s design include a huge pergola and gazebo for climbing roses and also spring and autumn flowering trees and bushes to extend the season and make the space more interesting. The rosarium is now approximately 6000 square metres with around 2000 species and the new rose garden is approximately 3000 square metres and boasts 250 different rose species.

A new axis combines the rosarium with the new modern rose garden which includes all historical roses in blocks and rows. The old pink and red roses are under-planted with perennials in white, purple and blue tones and orange and purples amongst the white roses. Taking inspiration from a rosebud and its multitudinous leaves, Nordfjell has created pathways of varying widths without clear beginnings or endings. The pergolas are curved creating softness and references to an English rose garden.

An ultra modern pond with rushing water contained by stainless steel has been designed for the area where weddings will be conducted in the round. This will be the centrepiece of the rose gardens and the perfect place for wedding photography amongst the stunning blue and white planting. Nordfjell’s personal favourites are Rosa ‘chinensis’ and Rosa ‘mutabilis’, for its charm and variation in colour from buds to flower. Gallica rose Rosa ‘ricardii’ is one of the oldest roses and thrives in the Swedish climate. Good shrub varieties include Albagroup ‘Maxima’ – a large white flowering bush and Albagroup ‘Celeste’ with its grey /green leaves and soft pink flowers.

Piet Oudolf’s rose garden is mostly peach and white and features only twelve roses of three different varieties, planted on a bed of grass and perennials. The roses are ‘Sally Holmes’, with single cream coloured flowers, silvery pink climber ‘Dainty Bess’ and blood red Altissimo’ compliments clematis ‘Gravetye’ beautifully. Roses are not necessarily a flower that one would associate with Piet so when he does use them they have to be fragrant. Organic thinking is always present in his designs as his inspiration is from nature and from wild flowers and the growing circle of life. Plants should also be visually interesting even when not in flower. Piet has also designed a woodland garden at the Trädgårdsföreningen.

Danish landscape architect Jane Schul’s garden is divided into squares of roses and perennials. Echinacea in new and exciting variations is colour matched to the roses. The squares are cut diagonally but also sometimes further cut into smaller rectangles. In between are hedges of straight cut and cubic formed yew. Like Ulf, Jane’s favourite rose is Rosa chinensis ‘Mutabilis’, a single rose with a remarkable colour range, from yellow to orange through to red and even magenta. Regardless of the slight difficultly in growing this rose here in this part of Sweden, Jane selected it for its sheer beauty, other roses have been chosen to compliment it. Jane’s rose garden is inspired from the rose garden in the Royal Garden in Copenhagen whose restoration she worked on. Jane is currently ‘Chair’ of the Royal Danish Gardening Society.

Sweden’s most acclaimed architect Gert Wingårdh and art director / designer Nina Thalinson have collaborated and come up with a garden that is a version of a historic British Sunken garden. The inspiration came from a visit to an English sunken garden and the Swedish East India ship Götheborg which was in London last May during the Linnaeus jubilee. The garden is stylistic and ship-like with horizontal and vertical steel constructions, a low black wooden deck and features pieces of porcelain from the last cargo of the Götheborg. Sitting down at the table on the wooden deck one is surrounded by a wall of water, 135 cm high and a 12 metre porcelain mosaic which will give the illusion of a waterfall. With the water flowing over the wall the porcelain is once more under water (previously spent 250 years at the bottom of the ocean at the harbour entrance in Gothenburg). Romantic flowers in pastel colours provide a fabulous contrast to the sharp architecture. Roses, clematis and perennials grow from beds surrounding the wooden deck. Gert’s recent projects include the Swedish embassy in Washington DC and his work is often described as controversial, daredevil and original. Nina has her own shop at the Röhsska design museum in Gothenburg and works on product design and exhibitions.

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